Our family has been feeling the affects of the upheaval and added emotions of being so involved with our three little friends who we have been helping since the loss of their mom and grandmother. They have spent a lot of time with our family recently. All three are sweet children, but all three are dealing with incredibly hard baggage. We have tried to offer a place of respite and rest in the midst of a hard season of life for them.
As much of a blessing as it is helping and having the three little ones over, it also results in a lot of mixed emotions, in particular for our two adoption treasures that are experiencing a lot of triggers and memories as they remember a similar season of loss in their own lives.
With those hard memories comes hard behaviors as both boys struggle to voice the worries, fears, and sadness that have been engulfing them. And when they can’t speak those feelings, they act on those feelings in unhealthy ways. For each boy their way of handling these hard emotions are different. With Tyler the need to release the build up of hard emotions tends to be explosive, destructive, and outward. As a result I have been seeking opportunities to help him release these emotions in a heathy way. I have spent much of my free time out in the yard kicking soccer balls or throwing a football in an attempt to give Tyler the chance to blow off steam and get the one on one attention he is craving, so that he doesn’t turn to destructive and hurtful attention seeking behavior.
For Ozzie those hard emotions cause him to turn within and self-punish. Ozzie has fallen back into the old coping behavior of self injury. At night he berates himself and hits himself. The sound of flesh smacking flesh pulls me back to his room after he has been tucked in and I find him slapping his own face. I know he is trying to “self sooth” with what is familiar, and for a little boy that was verbally and physically abused, the familiar and comfortable is punishment. For Ozzie the physical pain of self punishment helps dull the emotional pain that he can’t reach within his heart.
In an attempt to give him a healthier “punching bag” for the build up of those emotions, so that he doesn’t use his own body, I ordered a Bozo punching clown. I set it up in his room and he has to punch it 20 times before climbing into bed. I step out of the room while he punches it so that he feels more comfortable verbalizing his angry feelings as he throws punches, without having to feel like a “bad kid” for having those angry emotions.
As a mom I am trying desperately to find the balance between helping these three children that are in need of an advocate and caretaker, while not allowing their hurts to affect our family (in particular our two adopted treasures) in a negative way. It is not the care of 8 children that leaves me tired, but rather the worry I have for each of them. I worry about each one of them as they navigate their own worries and struggles, all while feeling like I am failing each of them. In my effort to try to meet everyone’s needs I feel as though I’m meeting no one’s.
I find myself on my knees, surrendering these little ones and their situation to a loving Heavenly Father, only to grab it back from Him in the middle of the night when the worries wake me from a dead sleep.
I say I trust His plan but then question the timing of His plan.
I know God’s hand is in this situation and He is calling for me to be faithful and trusting. He is calling me to set aside my worries, my limited human knowledge of the situation, and my fear driven need to control an uncontrollable situation, and rest in His promise that all will be well.
I am trying. I am really trying…
On Monday we had two of our little friends over for family night. I was worn out from a hard weekend but determined to tap deep and focus the last of my energy for the day on connecting with my children. So instead of crawling into bed (which is what I REALLY wanted to do) Toby and I headed to the park with our 5 kiddos and 2 spares. 🙂
Toby lovingly drove through a drive-thru to buy dinner, so that I didn’t have to cook, and we enjoyed an evening picnic and some playground time. It was just what I needed, and just what our kids needed…to step away from the house, and responsibilities, and just go play and be kids for an evening.
I left the park feeling uplifted and strengthened and renewed. I realized that what I needed was simply a break from the worry, and a reminder of how good God is…
How good life is.
It is going to be OK.
And there in the middle of the noise and the play I found the rest my soul was searching for.